Monday, January 14, 2008

A Sunday Phenomenon

You’ve waited all week for this.

It’s Sunday morning. You had some trouble sleeping last night, and you know the exact cause.

This happens every 7 days or so.

Your salivary glands spark and sputter in anticipation, like an old rusty engine brought to life after a winter’s slumber. Your tongue is like the carburetor.

You’re thinking about it, and you need it.

You want it.

You have to have it.

What am I talking about? I’ll give you a hint - it’s not church. And it’s not NFL football.

What else can one do on a Sunday?

One word: BRUNCH.

A combination of breakfast and lunch, in both name and practice - thus making it the ultimate meal. It's unfortunate, and absolutely mind-blowing, that brunch isn’t a nationwide phenomenon. You can find it here and there outside of the Northeast. But the true bastion of American brunching seems to be along the I-95 corridor, centered in Philadelphia and New York.

In those two towns, and in New York especially, you can barely stroll a block without walking into a sidewalk menu announcing the day’s brunch specials.

Why is brunch so darn great? Well, one thing is that you can get pancakes at one or two in the afternoon. Or waffles, or french toast. There’s nothing quite like digging into the tender middle of a fresh Belgian waffle, oozing with pure Vermont maple syrup and/or strawberry jam, while the afternoon sun beats a path through your shirt, lightly baking your back. Yummy. Waffles and a warm back.

And it’s not only the fact that you can order these sweet and sinful breakfast foods. There are the aforementioned brunch specials, which you can dream about all week. Half the fun of brunch is guessing what this week’s specials might be.

Will they have Eggs Benedict? Or Eggs Florentine? How about Eggs Rancheros? Or the lesser known, but equally scrumptious Eggs a la Condo Renovation - smothered in sawdust, with chunks of real plaster swirled throughout. A clever byproduct of relentless renovations going on in the apartment located directly above the kitchen. But maybe that’s just a New York City delicacy.

Brunch is also the only meal of the week where you can linger as long as you like. It’s Sunday, after all - the day of rest. That's an exciting proposition. And the standard, brunch-issued bottomless cup of coffee only adds to the excitement. Why, during the course of a 2 hour brunch, you could consume 8-10 cups of coffee. Easy. Very easy. Easy, easy, easy!!! EASY!!

Whoa. Just the thought of all that caffeine just raised my heart rate to about 180 beats/minute.

But seriously, brunch really is my favorite meal of the week. And I do salivate in anticipation - anticipation of the thick-cut, extra-crispy, applewood-smoked bacon; of the mini corn muffins with strawberry butter; of the omelettes stuffed to the hilt with smoked gouda and asparagus. The list goes on and on.

And that’s truly the magic of brunch. If you dream it, it can be yours - for brunch.

Want pancakes? No problem. How about streak and eggs? You got it. Just let your imagination take you there, and (as long as it’s available on the menu) it will be yours.

Here are a few of my top brunch recommendations for New York City:

Five Points
31 Great Jones St, New York 10012
Btwn Lafayette & Bowery St

Clinton Street Baking Company (note: literally impossible to get a table without a hefty wait)
4 Clinton St, New York 10002
Btwn Stanton & Houston St

359 Bleecker St, New York 10014
Btwn Charles & W 10th St

Friend of a Farmer (note: great name - fun to say)
77 Irving Pl, New York 10003
Btwn 18th & 19th St

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. I'm always up for a new and exciting brunch locale.

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